3rd ranked U24 Habs player - Juraj Slafkovsky

Juraj Slafkovsky did more than enough to prove he is a legitimate top-line player. Next season, he will continue writing the script.
Detroit Red Wings vs Montreal Canadiens
Detroit Red Wings vs Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

For the month of May, aside from the NHL Draft lottery, there isn’t much going on. So here at A Winning Habit, I’ve decided to rank the 24 best Canadiens under 24 years old. I opted to rank players that are closest to the NHL, so aside from David Reinbacher, there are no 2023 Draftees. 

So, without further ado, let’s go ahead with the 3rd best player, in my opinion, Juraj Slafkovsky.

Juraj Slafkovsky is one of, if not the most polarizing Canadiens players. After a rookie season that many believed to be disappointing for a first-overall pick, Slafkovsky went to work over the offseason. Year two started slow, but Martin St. Louis’ stubbornness paid off and the big Slovak hit his stride. 

Slafkovsky hit his stride and never looked back and the 20-year-old’s rise gives plenty of excitement for the 2024-25 campaign. Slotting in alongside Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield on the top trio, Slafkovsky was an impeccable fit. There is no telling how much better his game can get, but there is no question that he is far from a finished product. 

Now that he has started using his frame and strength to defend pucks, the game looks easier for him. He regularly retrieves loose pucks or hunts down the opposition to force turnovers and his transitional play is off the charts. Using great vision and elite puck skills, Slafkovsky is a menace in the offensive zone, who will only continue to thrive as he figures out how good he is. 

Slafkovsky has shown capabilities at the World Hockey Championships of his versatility and ability to adapt to different linemates. The fact that he can thrive with whoever he plays with, gives the Canadiens options for next season and beyond. From disgruntled, frustrated top pick to the top line in two seasons is no easy feat, but Slafkovsky personifies high character and he is as hard a worker as they come. 

For now, Slafkovsky sits at third on the Under 24 players list. But it wouldn’t be surprising if he ascended to number two next year. He does all the little things right and is so coachable and competitive that the only thing that will limit him is himself.